In today’s New York Daily News, Bob Raissman accuses George Steinbrenner of “either directly or through other Yankee operatives, planting questions with the network’s clubhouse reporters (first Suzyn Waldman now Kimberly Jones).”

One veteran baseball writer who was in Torre’s office for the postgame press conference said: “This was the most uncomfortable atmosphere I’ve ever been in at Yankee Stadium.” Nancy Newman (above), who primarily does football reporting for YES, was filling in for Jones.

Newman, who according to the writer had a list of questions written out, began asking them. Torre, for his part, looked both tired and on edge.

The subject turned to Torre pulling starter Scott Proctor after five innings and 72 pitches.

“That could’ve been the turning point ” the relief (pitching). The bullpen definitely hurt,” Newman said. “How disappointed (were you) to watch that sequence and the lead being squandered?” Newman asked.

Torre’s eyes widened. He might as well have picked up the phone as a prop in mock pretense of responding directly to Steinbrenner. “One thing I’ll say here. I’m not going to waste my time talking about negative things,” Torre said bitingly. “We won a ballgame 9-8. I’m not here to start beating on people, especially the people that, if we expect to win, are going to get us there.” Newman sounded nervous. She was in over her head. Still, for her this was just spot duty.

Jones has been on the hot seat for an entire season. Spies say she has been stressed out over being force-fed questions she knows are going to irritate Torre.

But this is what happens when YES hires reporters who have limited knowledge of baseball. Torre recognizes this. That’s why when Newman or Jones go into the lion’s den they do so without benefit of a chair or whip.